Oklahoma Christian University students and faculty now have a new way to get around campus.
App-based scooter-sharing company Bird will drop off 75 scooters at residence halls, apartments and major buildings throughout campus beginning today after chapel. The scooters cost $1 to start and 15 cents per riding minute, according to Student Government Association (SGA) Head of Campus Improvements Nash Scott.
Scott said the idea of bringing electric scooters to campus was brought up at the beginning of last semester, when the SGA learned it would cost more than $1,000 to repair several damaged rental bicycles. After deciding to repair just a few of the bikes, Scott said he contacted Bird, as well as their direct competitor Lime, to see if electric scooters would be a viable, cost-effective transportation option on a small campus.
“Bird was responsive and fast and thought Oklahoma Christian would be a good fit,” Scott said. “So it kind of just snowballed from there.”
University administration, including Dean of Students Neil Arter and Chief Legal Officer Stephen Eck, supported the idea after learning the university would not be held liable for any injuries or misconduct associated with the scooters, Scott said. In addition, Bird will maintain responsibility for all scooter maintenance and oversight, meaning the university will not have to invest any financial resources.
“They [Bird] actually pay the school a little bit to place signage and put special lanes in if we end up needing those,” Scott said. “It will cost the student, but driving also costs the student. The only free option is technically walking.”
The scooters—equipped with geo-tracking technology and a maximum speed of 15 mph—will be allowed on outdoor sidewalks only. If someone attempts to drive a scooter into a building or Hartman Place, a loud siren will ring, and the scooter will slowly come to a stop.
While Bird has been approved to operate in Oklahoma City, Nash said their status in Edmond is currently pending, meaning students who attempt to ride north across Smiling Hill Boulevard may initially run into trouble.
“We don’t want to be an issue to Edmond,” Scott said. “But they’re also trying to bring Bird to UCO as well, so the scooters shouldn’t be geo-fenced for long, even if they are at first.”
The scooters will be maintained by Bird Chargers, independent contractors who are paid a flat fee by the company to collect dead scooters and charge them to their electric supply overnight. Any person over the age of 18, including Oklahoma Christian students, may apply to become a Bird Charger. The Bird smartphone app used to activate scooters can be found in both the Apple and Google Play stores.